Another week in the NBA, another slew of devastating injuries to top-notch players. The argument about whether or not this is the worst season we’ve ever seen for injuries has yet to have a clear resolution, but there’s no denying that the number of games missed by some of the league’s brightest stars is just a flat-out bummer.
This week, we added Eric Bledsoe, Jrue Holiday, and Ryan Anderson to a seemingly never-ending list of players missing big chunks of time this season, as all three are likely out for a month or more. Hopefully someday I’ll be able to use this space to talk about things over than whining about injuries (and the Bucks), but for now that’s all I’ve got. Oh, and Luol Deng was traded to the Cavs. Fantasy implications abound!
Add Mike Dunleavy / Buy Jimmy Butler
When the Bulls’ leading scorer and shot-taker Luol Deng was traded for Andrew Bynum, it was obvious that minutes and offensive load would have to be divvied up among the players remaining on the roster. As expected, Bynum was waived right away and the Bulls got down to business with what they had. As of now, Mike Dunleavy seems to be inline for one of the bigger jumps in production.
Dunleavy has taken over as the starting small forward since Deng’s departure and has put up decent late-round value. He has averaged 14.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 1.3 three-pointers per game, while shooting .500 from the field and .571 from deep. The lack of defensive numbers is a bit of a letdown, but his scoring and three-point potential make him a hot add right now while the Bulls are figuring out who they are without Derrick Rose and Deng.
Jimmy Butler will soon be someone to look at buying as well, even though he's currently working his way through a quad injury. In the first game after Deng's departure, Butler put up a career-high 18 shots from the field. If that is any indication of things to come, he'll be a big part of the Bulls' offense going forward, which should add to his already excellent defensive upside.
Buy Tyreke Evans / Add Brian Roberts / Monitor Pelicans Frontcourt
Jrue Holiday has a stress fracture in his right tibia and is expected to miss a pretty big chunk of time. The latest reports have him missing a month or so, but we have yet to get an exact timetable. This would mean a huge boost for Tyreke Evans, but he’s suffering through yet another ankle sprain. It could be a good chance to buy low on Evans if the ankle trouble doesn’t cost him too much time (I mentioned his ascension in Volume 9), but if you’re looking for a solid waiver wire move in the wake of the Holiday injury, add Brian Roberts.
In his rookie season last year, Roberts played backup to Greivis Vasquez and wasn’t really on the fantasy radar. In five spot starts, however, he put up impressive averages of 12.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 10.0 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.4 threes per game. In his last two starts since Holiday went down, Roberts has averaged 8.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.0 steal, and 0.5 threes, but has only shot .286 from the field and .200 from deep. Those numbers probably won’t convince you to run out and pick him up, but with the minutes and starts all but guaranteed and the high upside he displayed in starts last year, getting him should be a no-brainer if you need help at point guard.
With Ryan Anderson also out for a while, speculative adds on the Pelicans, such as Al-Farouq Aminu and Jason Smith, also get a boost. Neither are a must add, but certainly worth monitoring. Aminu, in particular, went for 15 points and 11 rebounds on Saturday.
Sell Eric Gordon
While we’re on the topic of the depleted Pelicans, I might as well mention that we’re entering a prime sell-high period on Eric Gordon. In the three seasons that Gordon has been in New Orleans, he has only played in 46 percent of the team’s games. That includes this season, in which he’s played in an impressive 33 of 36. If you’re someone who buys into the whole idea of injury-prone players never being able to shake the tag, then you’d be smart to get out now.
Gordon has had a decent fantasy season, putting up mid-round value on 16.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.5 threes, .449 shooting from the field, .397 from long range, and .812 from the stripe. With Holiday, Evans, and Anderson all missing time lately, Gordon has been even more impressive, putting up averages of 21.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steal, and 2.2 threes per game, while shooting .541 from the field, .478 from deep, and .882 from the line over his last five, vaulting him to early-round value.
You’ll never find a better time than now to jump ship. Gordon might continue to put up gaudy numbers over the next little while with Holiday sidelined, but there are too many factors at play that suggest a regression. His injury history is the biggest one, of course, but the word that the Pelicans are actively shopping him doesn’t help either. It’s hard to imagine a better situation for him than New Orleans, but there are many that could be worse. Top that off with the fact that Holiday, Evans, and Anderson should all come back healthy at some point and regain their touches and production. You should flip him now at his current value for someone who has a better chance of sustaining it the rest of the way.
Add Gerald Green / Buy Goran Dragic
I’ve already mentioned Gerald Green as an add twice this year, with the most recent occurrence being just last week. He has become an auto-add whenever Eric Bledsoe misses time, so he is officially in must-add territory with Bledsoe sidelined for the foreseeable future after having his right meniscus removed on Friday. I’ll spare you the details of Green’s effectiveness when starting and simply suggest you follow the link above for the explanation of that add from last week.
In the meantime, I’ll take this opportunity to push Goran Dragic as a player that you should be aggressively targeting in buy scenarios while you still can. The Dragon is putting together a splendid fantasy season, returning mid-round value on 19.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.3 threes per game, while shooting .487 from the floor, .376 from deep, and .800 from the line. During the 12 games that Bledsoe has missed so far this year, Dragic has stepped it up for early-round value on averages of 21.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.8 threes, shooting .494 from the field, .468 from deep, and .795 from the line.
Many were skeptical of how well the Dragic and Bledsoe pairing would work in Phoenix this year and we were all pleasantly surprised at how they have been able to play off each other and share the load in the Suns backcourt. Dragic gets a boost now while Bledsoe is out, but will continue to hold solid value when he returns, which makes him a safe buy option with high upside if you’ve got someone to sell.
Add Randy Foye
Randy Foye has started 33 of the Nuggets’ 36 games this season, but has only really been relevant in fantasy hoops as a three-point specialist. His minutes and production have been inconsistent, so beyond the occasional three-point barrage, he hasn’t really warranted a high ownership rate.
What have you done for me lately? Well, the Nuggets are currently on a five-game winning streak, due in large part to Foye’s surging play. Over that stretch, he has averaged 18.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.4 blocks, 4.0 threes, and only 0.8 turnovers, while shooting the lights out at a rate of .554 from the field, .541 from deep, and .909 from the line. That’s a surprisingly strong and versatile 9-category line that actually has Foye posting first-round value over that time. Yes, you read that correctly.
He’s a very strong add right now, while we see if he can keep this monster play going. He’s averaging 34.2 minutes per game over his last seven and looks to be on his way to a consistent role and playing time. Pick him up and ride the wave.
Buy Rudy Gay
It kind of feels like selling my soul, but I have no choice but to recommend Rudy Gay as a player to buy right now. I’m one of Rudy’s biggest haters as a fantasy player, based on his history of inefficiency, ballhogging, and his maddening iso-heavy play. I talked about how the Raptors should get rid of him, then talked about how much better they’ve been without him. That much is arguably true, but there’s no denying that Rudy Gay has been a completely different player in Sacramento.
In his first 18 games with the Raptors this season, Gay had an effective field goal percentage of .421 and a true shooting percentage of .468. That’s really bad for a player shooting a team-high 18.6 shots per game. For those not as familiar with advanced stats, his .388 from the field over that span should be plenty to show just how bad this guy was at shooting the basketball as a Raptor.
Since coming to the Kings, Gay has become a third-option on offense, trailing DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas in shots per game (down from 18.6 to 14.7). Despite a 20 percent decrease in attempts, Gay is actually scoring more, upping his average from 19.7 points per game in Toronto to 20.4 in Sacramento. His effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage have been at a career-high .550 and .606 respectively during his time with the Kings. He is also averaging a career-high .355 free-throw attempts per field-goal attempt. Add in his 5.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.9 blocks, 0.8 threes, and .846 shooting from the line over his 15 games in Sacramento and you’ve got strong early-round value.
His early-season numbers still have his overall value in the mid-rounds. If you can find an owner that’s still reeling over his poor start, maybe you can pry him away without breaking the bank. As much as he didn’t seem to fit in Memphis and Toronto, it seems like he’s found a home in Sacramento and should continue to put up elite numbers in a system that doesn’t require him to be the focal point of the offense.
Ok, now I need a shower. I feel dirty.
Add Courtney Lee
The Celtics traded guard Courtney Lee to the Grizzlies for Jerryd Bayless last week, in a move that no one really expected to have much fantasy impact. Lee was supposed to be a rotational player behind starters Mike Conley and Tony Allen, but he was thrust into a bigger role from the get-go because of a small fracture in Allen’s left hand.
In his three games as a Grizzly, Lee has averaged 11.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.0 block, and 1.0 three-pointer. On Sunday night, in his first start of the season (for the Celtics or the Grizzlies), he filled the stat sheet with 15 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, and 1 three-pointer. With Allen set to miss at least another week or so, Lee makes for a solid add this week and perhaps beyond if he can find regular minutes in the Grizzlies’ rotation.
Add Terrence Jones
Way back in Volume 3, I recommended that you add Rockets forward Terrence Jones. Omer Asik clearly wasn’t in Coach Kevin McHale’s plans and was pouting on the bench while awaiting a trade. While that was going on, Jones had emerged as a starter with big-game potential in a potent Rockets lineup.
Fast-forward about two months later, Asik is still a Rocket (but out indefinitely with an injury) and Jones is still unowned in about half of the leagues out there, despite starting and putting up mid- to late-round value on the season.
I guess I can understand why, when you consider his last five scoring totals were 12, 6, 15, 6, and 19. Despite the occasional dud, however, Jones is still averaging an impressive 12.1 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.6 blocks, and only 0.9 turnovers per game over his last eight, to go with .524 shooting from the field. Although he hasn’t been shooting the three much recently, he does have the potential to get hot from downtown from time to time. He should be owned in all standard leagues and if he can start scoring consistently, people will soon regretting sleeping on him for this long.
Sell Jordan Crawford
Along with the Jones add in Volume 3, I also recommended that you add Jordan Crawford. That recommendation worked out, as Crawford latched on as the Celtics’ starting point guard and flirted with mid-round value from then on out. He has been a little hot-and-cold lately, but has still busted out the occasional big game, like when he went for 24 points, 2 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 steals against the Clippers last Wednesday.
As a starter this year, Crawford has averaged 14.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.3 three-pointers per game. Those are certainly numbers worth holding onto, but the return of Rajon Rondo is looming and that could mean a major hit to Crawford’s value. The most recent reports have Rondo returning as early as this week, while others are simply saying it’s likely to be before the All-Star break.
Regardless of when exactly it happens, it will still likely mean the end of Crawford’s pleasantly surprising run. The Celts just acquired Jerryd Bayless from the Grizzlies and still have Avery Bradley as well. Although Crawford is still likely to have the occasional big night, his value will never be this high when Rondo returns and takes back his starting role. The best bet right now is to sell high on Crawford before his value plummets and you might be forced to drop him.
Add Shaun Livingston
Shaun Livingston has had mixed results in a variety of roles this year, but has strung together some good performances lately. With Deron Williams missing the last four games for the Nets due to another ankle problem, Livingston has started and responded with solid numbers.
He has averaged a respectable 13.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game during that stretch. He won’t give you anything in terms of three-pointers and he has had a very up-and-down season overall, but he’s currently trending up. He was part of the starting lineup in the two games before DWill went down (both wins), so there’s a decent chance that he sticks there when Williams returns and he’s worth adding until we see how this all shakes out. The Nets only play once this week in London, so there’s no rush to add him, but certainly keep an eye on him if you’re hurting at the point.
Add Patrick Patterson
Patrick Patterson came over to the Raptors in the Rudy Gay trade and has become a solid contributor as a backup big man. Tyler Hansbrough has missed the last five games for the Raps and Patterson has absorbed the vast majority of big man minutes off the bench as a result.
Over those five games, Patterson has averaged 14.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.0 block, and 1.2 threes in 24.7 minutes per game, while shooting .537 from the floor, .545 from deep, and .700 from the line.
If Amir Johnson or Jonas Valanciunas were ever to go down with injury, Patterson would be a must-own player. For now, he’s a fun speculative add while he’s putting up good numbers and Hansbrough's out. Even when Hansbrough returns, there's a good chance that Patterson keeps putting up good value. Patterson flirted with late-round value for stretches last year with the Rockets and Kings, partially in a reserve role, and was an underrated part of this recent deal for the Raps. He currently deserves a shot in standard leagues.
Add Amar’e Stoudemire
Amar’e Stoudemire is far from the player he once was and this add recommendation is in no way an indication that he’s on his way back to all-star form. Simply put, the Knicks are on a four-game winning streak and STAT has contributed positively to their success, making him worth a flier at this point if you need a big.
Tyson Chandler has missed the last four games with a lingering upper respiratory infection, which has opened up minutes for Stoudemire. He has responded by putting up respectable averages, particularly in the last two contests where he has gone for 17.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.0 steal per game, and shot .682 from the floor and .714 from the line. He’s in no way a lock to sustain these numbers, but he hasn’t missed a game since mid-December and is stepping up and contributing. If Chandler misses more time, STAT might be worth a short-term look.